govt-mule-Issue-No30Gov’t Mule

The blues-rock jammers take a novel approach to a double-disc set

Gov’t Mule didn’t intend their latest release as a celebration of the band’s 20th anniversary next year. That’s not why Shout! is a double-disc set packed with guest singers—it just turned out that way.

Gov’t Mule—frontman Warren Haynes, drummer Matt Abts, keyboardist and guitarist Danny Louis and bassist Jorgen Carlsson—began writing and recording for the album as they normally would. But they ended up with 11 songs and 11 additional versions that featured vocal performances from the likes of Dave Matthews, Elvis Costello, Steve Winwood and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James.

“We just figured we were doing the next Gov’t Mule record,” says Haynes. “But this all came about very organically. It started with one singer, then two, then three—the three being Elvis Costello, Dr. John and Toots Hibbert. At first, we planned to have them sing a small cameo, but it seemed a waste to have these great singers do only that. So we decided to have them sing the whole song. Once we had the three songs it made sense to do more, and then have a bonus disc with a different version of every song sung by a different singer.”

Some selections, like former Deep Purple vocalist Glenn Hughes and the Nocturnals’ Grace Potter, are an obvious fit for Gov’t Mule’s music. But others, particularly Costello, are surprising.

“We chose each singer according to the song,” explains Haynes. “I made a list of each song and who I would like to hear sing it, and started making phone calls. The most important aspect of the project was picking the right singer for each song. The thing about this record that I’m proudest of is that each singer sounds like they were meant to sing the song.”

Gov’t Mule’s backing tracks weren’t just recycled for the bonus disc. If the song demanded it, or if they felt inspired by the vocal cut, the band rearranged or added parts, making the project much more collaborative.

“The Dr. John version of ‘Stoop So Low’ is two or three minutes longer than the version on disc one. That whole Afro jam is a different performance and musical direction,” says Haynes. “We thought it was important for each song to vary from the original. The ones on the second disc feature the singers more, while disc one is our interpretation and how we normally do a song. You get to see how the guest singers’ brains work and how Gov’t Mule’s brain works.”

–Linda Laban


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